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Posts Tagged Imran Khan

ISRAEL SPYING ON PAKISTAN- India’s Gandhi and Pakistan’s Khan Tapped as Targets in Israeli NSO Spyware Scandal

India’s Gandhi and Pakistan’s Khan Tapped as Targets in Israeli NSO Spyware Scandal


Omer Benjakob

Tech & Cyber reporter and editor for Haaretz in English



Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel in 2017. Over 1,000 Indian numbers were potentially targeted by NSO’s Pegasus software

Prominent Indian politician Rahul Gandhi and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan were selected as potential targets of the Israeli-made Pegasus spyware program by clients of the NSO Group cyberespionage firm, a global investigation can reveal Monday.

Forbidden Stories – a Paris-based journalism nonprofit – and Amnesty International had access to a leak of more than 50,000 records of phone numbers that NSO clients selected for possible surveillance. The leak was shared with Haaretz and 16 other news organizations worldwide that have worked collaboratively to conduct further analysis and reporting over past months.

Forbidden Stories oversaw the investigation, called the Pegasus Project, and Amnesty International provided forensic analyses and technical support.

Project Pegasus partners The Guardian and the Washington Post, as well as the Indian newspaper The Wire, revealed Monday that Rahul Gandhi, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s biggest political rival, was selected to be a target at least twice. 

Rahul Gandhi in Karnataka in 2018. Two numbers linked to Gandhi were selected for targeting by an NSO client and are being revealed as part of the Pegasus Project
Rahul Gandhi in Karnataka in 2018. Two numbers linked to Gandhi were selected for targeting by an NSO client and are being revealed as part of the Pegasus ProjectCredit: Sidheeq via WikiCommons

The database only includes potential targets – a wish list of sorts from NSO’s clients – and not verified targets. But traces of NSO software were found in more than 85 percent of the analyses conducted by Amnesty International on iPhones that were used by potential victims across the world at the time of their number’s selection. 

According to the Pegasus Project investigation, out of the 50,000 phone numbers leaked, over 1,000 Indian numbers were selected as potential targets. According to The Guardian, the numbers “strongly indicate that intelligence agencies within the Indian government were operating the system.”

India has not confirmed nor denied whether it is a client of NSO, and its regulation does not require the government to disclose the use of such technology. 

Among those potentially targeted in India were two of Gandhi’s closest advisors – Alankar Sawai and Sachin Rao – and Ashok Lavasa, a senior Indian election official. The local head of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, M. Hari Menon, was also tapped as a potential target.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during an interview with Reuters in Islamabad, Pakistan June 4, 2021. REUTERS/Saiyna Bashir
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during an interview with Reuters in Islamabad, Pakistan June 4, 2021. Credit: SAIYNA BASHIR/ REUTERS

Additional potential targets included Pakistani officials, including a number once associated with Pakistani leader Khan. They also included Kashmiri separatists, leading Tibetan religious figures and even an Indian supreme court judge. Khan did not respond to a request for comment from the Washington Post. 

Gandhi, who said he changes phones every few months to avoid being hacked, said in response: “Targeted surveillance of the type you describe, whether in regard to me, other leaders of the opposition or indeed any law-abiding citizen of India, is illegal and deplorable.

“If your information is correct, the scale and nature of surveillance you describe goes beyond an attack on the privacy of individuals. It is an attack on the democratic foundations of our country. It must be thoroughly investigated, and those responsible be identified and punished.”

According to an analysis of the Pegasus Project records, more than 180 journalists were selected in 21 countries by at least 12 NSO clients. The potential targets and clients hail from Bahrain, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, India, Mexico, Hungary, Azerbaijan, Togo and Rwanda. 

The Amnesty International Security Lab conducted forensics analyses of cell phones targeted with Pegasus as part of the project. Their findings are consistent with past analyses of those targeted with NSO’s spyware, including the case of dozens of journalists allegedly hacked in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, identified by Citizen Lab in December of last year.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel in 2017. Over 1,000 Indian numbers were potentially targeted by NSO's Pegasus software
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel in 2017. Over 1,000 Indian numbers were potentially targeted by NSO’s Pegasus softwareCredit: Koby Gideon, GPO

India is Israel’s biggest arms market, buying around $1 billion worth of weapons every year, according to Reuters. The two countries have grown closer since Modi became Indian prime minister in 2014, widening commercial cooperation beyond their longstanding defense ties. Modi became the first sitting Indian leader to visit Israel in July 2017, while former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a state visit to India at the start of 2018.

NSO issued a response to the 17 media partners led by the journalism nonprofit Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International, calling the leak an “international conspiracy.” 

“The report by Forbidden Stories is full of wrong assumptions and uncorroborated theories that raise serious doubts about the reliability and interests of the sources. It seems like the ‘unidentified sources’ have supplied information that has no factual basis and are far from reality,” the company said in the statement.

“After checking their claims, we firmly deny the false allegations made in their report,” NSO’s statement said.

In response to questions from the Washington Post, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said the claim that specific people were targeted “had no concrete basis or truth associated with it whatsoever.” They added that “any interception, monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer resource is done as per due process of law.”





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Well Done! PM Imran Khan


Pakistan’s Honest Man


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PM should step down until JIT completes probe, says Imran

Thief PM Nawaz Must Go Behind Bars For Life

PM should step down until JIT completes probe, says Imran

ISLAMABAD: Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan on Thursday has said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should step down until the JIT completes its investigation. 

Speaking to reporters following the Supreme Court verdict in the Panama Leaks case, Khan said Sharif no longer had any moral authority to continue as prime minister of the country.

“What respect will he have when a government officer calls the prime minister for a criminal inquiry,” he said.

Terming the verdict “a historic judgment in Pakistan’s history”, he said that all five members of the bench have rejected PM Sharif’s explanation of the money trail that led to his children’s offshore holdings.

“I demand Nawaz Sharif to resign today. Sharif should resign because he will not allow an impartial investigation,” he said.

“If Sharif is cleared in 60 days after the joint investigation team’s report, he can continue to serve as the prime minister, but at the moment he has no ethical right to serve on this position,” said the chairman of the PTI.

Imran said that only two of the institutions whose members will be part of the JIT fall under the Chief of Army Staff, while the rest come under the prime minister.

“Hence, he must resign immediately in order for an impartial investigation to be conducted,” said the PTI chairman.

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For the very fact that no other politician has had the temerity to question the legality of the drone attacks, the validity of the election process, the moral courage to challenge a fascist party in its own backyard and to raise the issue of corruption in the dharnas…….. Do we want to live with the pathetic electoral process- where the irregularities, as they are being revealed daily, are mind boggling? Do we want to accept the killing of innocent children, women, men and older people as part of ‘collateral damage’ of the drone attacks? Do we want to be held hostage to a political party that believes in terrorizing the citizens of a whole city? And ultimately, if we want to control terrorism, we will have to address the upstream factors- and the complete and utter failure of the educational, health, law and order and justice systems of Pakistan. And if one man and one party is raising all the above issues and bringing them into our collective political consciousness, what is wrong with that? And what does it matter if the person raising these issues is a sportsman or a shopkeeper or a soldier or a businessman? As long as he is speaking the truth and challenging the status quo, he/she has my support Whether PTI survives or not without IK is a question we must leave for the future. All I know is that if the foundations of any party or an organization or an individual are based on ethics, morals and integrity, that party and that individual will leave a legacy for future generations. That is why we remember Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Nelson Madela and what they stood for. And that is why we do not remember Marcos, Shah or Iran, Idi Amin, Zia ul Haq and others like them

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Twilight of the old order – by Ayaz Amir

Islamabad diary :  Friday, December 12, 2014 

Twilight of the old order

Ayaz Amir

Dar’s announcing the government’s readiness for unconditional talks with the PTI is not the dawning of wisdom. If only it had been that. It is the government being left with no other choice, wisdom driven into its head first by the huge rally in Islamabad on November 30 and then the closure of Faisalabad on December 8. Had these not happened, rest assured there would have been no offer of talks. Laaton ke bhoot

The iron rod – sarya – has melted, imgres-5because Imran Khan and the PTI have proved tougher and more tenacious than at least I could have imagined. For what my opinion is worth, I have to say this that for years I did not take Imran seriously as a politician. How many times must I not have told foreign journalists out to make sense of Imran that for all his other qualities he lacked that fire in the belly which alone confers mass appeal?

That was then when he was a virtual lone ranger, aimlessly moving from one place to another without attracting too great a following, his celebrity status just that and not turning into instant political coinage. But he kept at it. I have said it before, permit me to say it again. A lesser man would have given up long ago, cursing his countrymen as an ungrateful lot into the bargain. Even after the 2013 elections when the PTI emerged as the second – or was it the third? – largest party, its gains were not much compared to the laurels won by the PML-N. And when Imran talked of the elections being stolen, and of reopening the account of four constituencies, who took him seriously?

And from outside my hotel window I saw the beginning of the Aug 14 ‘long march’ from Lahore and wasn’t too impressed. It was a rather bedraggled army setting out uncertainly for a quest it wasn’t too sure of. Then the container speeches, and the liberati and professional spoons (chamchas) of the ruling party, and armchair pundits – preening themselves on knowing the national mood better than anyone else – opening up with their jibes and sarcasm.

They made fun of the Reverend ATQ and they made fun of Imran Khan and gave the nation long lectures on democracy, at the same time hoarsely alleging that both Qadri and Imran had been launched by ‘secret hands’. Since when did our ‘secret hands’ become so clever?

Unbeknownst to the armchair warriors, the national mood was completely different. The crowds weren’t buying into the cynicism being ladled out by the experts. Through his daily speeches Qadri gave the nation a lesson in constitutionalism – in what the constitution really stood for. His workers – and let this never be forgotten – put the fear of God into that enlightened institution known as the Punjab Police. This was an important psychological breakthrough because with the Punjab Police demoralised – most notably on account of the Model Town massacre – the ruling setup felt vulnerable and defenceless, and therefore unsure of itself. The melting of the iron rod had begun.

The interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar — who has now made himself virtually invisible – experimented with the use of force on Constitution Avenue on the evening of August 30, with the use of brutal force against the protesters but to no avail. Hundreds were injured but the protesters, especially those of the Reverend’s party(PAT), held their ground. It was the police which had to retreat.

Out of necessity not choice the government had to come to its senses. That was the last occasion when force on such a scale was used in an effort to quell the growing agitation. In Faisalabad the PML-N tried roughneck tactics to stop the PTI but, as we have seen, this backfired. It is the PML-N which is licking its wounds.

What Imran gave the crowds and the nightly national TV audience he addressed was courage. The PTI was a ‘burger’ and ‘mummy-daddy’ party. If today the PTI worker is fearless it is because of the example set by his leader. Say what you will about him – and there is no checking the cynicism of the ‘liberati’ – he is tireless and has proved audacious, giving calls for rallies without preparation but the crowds justifying his confidence in himself by responding in unprecedented numbers.

I was sure that he wouldn’t be able to pull off the closure of Faisalabad, convinced he had overreached himself. But lo and behold the city responded to his call and the PML-N is still trying to figure out what hit it.

If for nothing else Imran Khan’s agitation would be worth the effort because of the huge participation of women and young girls in his rallies. When did such a thing happen in Pakistan before? Women sitting right in the heart of these jalsas with no fear of being touched or molested. In the context of Pakistani society this is a bigger revolution than any other.

Spare a thought for the ironies of history. Zardari had to become PPP godfather and president of the republic before the PPP could come to destroy itself as thoroughly in Punjab as it has managed to do. What Gen Zia and successive heads of the ISI could not achieve, Zardari has done.

The Sharifs had to come to power for the third time before the essential hollowness of what they stood for could be completely exposed. Imran Khan stands out the more when compared to the constant money-making and incompetence of the knights he is up against.

Musharraf’s coup saved the Sharifs in Oct 99 by making political martyrs of them. Champions of democracy…that’s what Musharraf turned them into. We have to thank our stars, the army stayed its hand in August this year because had it moved – as so many, including myself, thought it would – they would have become political martyrs again…their shortcomings, to put it no stronger than this, forgotten.

Certain breaches are irreparable. After Musharraf’s eclipse the demise of the Q League was a foregone conclusion, indeed an historical necessity. After Zardari’s ride in the chariot of Roman glory the PPP’s elimination in Punjab was unstoppable. Today nothing can arrest the decline of the N League because it represents a past, a period in our history, which is gone. The Sharifs were a counterweight to the PPP. That was their historical relevance, the reason they were nurtured by ‘secret hands’ and promoted to political prominence. They are no answer to Pakistan’s present problems.

One has to look the part. Can even their fervent admirers – let’s say the members of the professional spoon (Chamcha) brigade – swear in all honesty that they look the part of the nation’s deliverers? Pakistan can’t live for another three or four years on the basis of laptop distribution or the construction of more unwanted metro-bus services. That’s as far as their imagination runs. They can be elected to power for a fourth time but still their minds will not go beyond more laptops and more flyovers.

Pakistan has moved on. These are no longer the 1990s. In 1990 the ISI could distribute banknotes stuffed in suitcases to a long line of N League candidates. Would you catch it doing such a crude thing today? Pakistan needs a change of guard on the quarterdeck. It needs a new style of leadership. In the PTI jalsas you can see something new, something different: the fervour and even ecstasy of the crowds, the music and the swaying to it, the participation of different classes – the well-heeled and fashionable and the not-so-well-heeled – and above all the participation of women.

In the PML-N you have my friends Abid Sher Ali, Rana Sanaullah, Pervaiz Rasheed. Or Dar and Nisar and Saad Rafiq and Khawaja Asif….look upon them and tremble. Are they anyone’s idea of the future?

The PML-N’s best bet is to stop playing tricks with itself and others and go seriously for a judicial commission to look into election irregularities. And it better be quick at it or the storm which has already gathered will sweep all before it. Fresh elections are what the country needs. Let’s hope we get them somehow.

Email: bhagwal63@gmail.com

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